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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Are you behind the times or leading the pack?

The internet puts all kinds of information at our fingertips.  We can google anything, we don’t write letters anymore, place a stamp on it and put it in a mailbox, and if we want to see almost anything we can go to YouTube. We are used to moving images at our fingertips through our smartphones, tablets, or computers.

I was prepping for a film last week and placed my breakdown on Breakdown Services because most actors on that service have reels on their profile. I use Breakdown Services for my theatrical casting because the way it allows us to use it is geared to less complicated mixes of talent in auditions. I see your work by watching your reel and I know if you are right for this particular character or not.  It’s the accepted knowledge of an actor for theatrical casting that a casting director will want to SEE some profile of their work and the casting director will most likely choose someone who has a reel over someone who does not have a reel.  Or to say the least, the person who has something to show has a leg up over someone who does not.  Because of this well known fact, actors strive to eventually have a reel to show as part of their profile.

So why is the attitude different regarding commercial casting?

Are you behind the times with your commercial profile?  I am going to make a bold statement:  if you have any kind of demo of yourself and don’t put it on your commercial profile, you are behind the times and you are doing yourself a disservice.  The fact is, the person who has some moving image on his commercial breakdown profile has the competitive edge over someone who does not.

Around the same time I was prepping the film, I was also prepping a commercial which had a lot of acting in it. I put my breakdown on Casting Networks (LA Casting) and low and behold, most actors had no reel.  Maybe you don’t understand why most commercials are not posted on Breakdown Services.  For commercials, most of us use Casting Networks over Breakdown Services because of intricate features on the service that make it more user friendly for the many character combinations, larger numbers of people per session and the morphs the session takes before our final schedule is set to be sent out.

The fact is a majority of actors who have reels on Breakdown Services do not one on Casting Networks. Why are fewer reels on the well-known commercial casting software? …Because it’s for a commercial?…and perhaps you must think the casting director who is putting together this commercial session does not really care about my acting?

Well, that’s just wrong.  Here’s what I have to go through to prep my commercial job that has acting in it.  On my desktop I have to have two screens up.  One is for Casting Networks and the other is for Breakdown Services.  When I see someone on Casting Networks who looks right and whose resume indicates the talent has what it takes to do a good job on this particular audition, I then have to search for the talent on Breakdown Services, and there I find the reel.  I watch the reel on that service,  like the person for this and I then switch back to Casting Networks and mark the person a “yes” and put them in the mix.  Each person, one after the other, back and forth from one service to the other cross-referencing.

Another scenario is I’m back on my commercial service and see a talent who has a lot of TV credits and no reel.  I laugh to myself and say “this person has to have a reel with so many TV credits”.  I cross-reference Breakdown Services, and sure enough there is their reel on Breakdown Services.  If the person does standup, I sometimes have to go to YouTube and sure enough there is something visual on YouTube, but no reel of their work on Casting Networks.

Sound tedious?  Well it is! So tedious that when I have more than enough choices, I do not go out of my way to search further for talent left with no reels.  I have more than enough choices with the work I’ve already put into the prep and time has run out.

Sounds nonsensical to have a reel and not have it included on Casting Networks, (or other commercial breakdown services that you might use) for the casting director can see your work?  Well it is!

Do you think the prep of a commercial casting job that has speaking in it has less thought put into it than a film or TV show audition being prepped by a theatrical casting director? Well it doesn’t.  It’s insulting to the casting process, and to yourself as a talent, to think that it’s not important for a casting director prepping a commercial to have access to your acting work with as much ease as possible.

I know, there are many commercial auditions that have no speaking…but many do.  I urge you to position yourself to be most competitive for all jobs.  Don’t dumb your profile down.  Position yourself for the speaking jobs. Include your reel.  Be ahead of the pack.  Make it easier for a casting director to see your work.

The choice is yours.

Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.

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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”